By Lura Robison.
Marlyne Morris, one of five children, discovered at an early age that she would rather be outside helping her dad with the farm work than inside cooking.
"I was the one who always wanted to go outside and help Dad with the farming, and my older sister preferred helping Mom with the cooking," says Hendrickson. "We also had some daily chores that everyone was responsible for. Every morning, each of us kids had three cows to milk before we left for school. The milkman would come around in the evening and separate the cream from the milk. We would sell the cream and that would usually buy the groceries for the week."
Hendrickson's appreciation for the outdoors and knowledge of agriculture were valuable when she and her new husband, Edwin Hendrickson, moved from Capron, OK, to Cheyenne Wells, CO.
Marlyne and Edwin were married in 1950, a few years after her high school graduation. He had just returned from World War II and Marlyne had recently broken-up with her last boyfriend, his brother. Ironically, she dated all Edwin's brothers before marring him and becoming a farmers wife.
"We had been working for a cattle farmer. He sold all the cattle because the dust was so thick that we could not even see the cattle," says Hendrickson. "We heard about a job in Colorado working for Baughman Farms, so we moved to Cheyenne Wells."
It was the Baughman's foreman who helped Hendrickson and her husband purchase their first two sections and begin farming for themselves.
"He told us that if we wanted to buy the land, we could plant it in a governmental grass program and then use that money to pay him back," says Hendrickson. " We paid only $15 an acre for our fist two sections."
Hendrickson and her husband wanted to purchase more land, so Edwin began custom harvesting. While he was away custom harvesting in the summer, Hendrickson took over the farm work.
"The foreman wanted us to try farming some land that was blowing, so I worked the ground. He would be gone harvesting a good portion of the summer, so I took care of the farm while he was gone."
For more than 40 years, Hendrickson farmed by her husband's side. Through the years, it became common knowledge that they worked as a team. Edwin even showed her how to keep the farm's financial records. One landlord, who Hendrickson and her husband farmed for, was so impressed by her hardwork and dedication to farming that he gave the couple their first chest freezer from his furniture store.
"He came out to the field one day and asked me if we had one of the new freezers yet," says Hendrickson. "I said no," and he replied, 'Then you shall have one soon.' We did not know what to think, but sure enough by the end of the week we had a new freezer."
Looking out the window of Hendricksons' farm house, she points at a small patch of trees that used to surround a tiny cottage, the first home to her four children.
"We were outgrowing the small house and needed something larger," says Hendrickson. "We built the house I am in now shortly after our fourth was born. The space is really appreciated."
Like their mother, all four children enjoyed farm work.
"When our kids were growing up, they wanted to drive tractors and do farm work. My husband would let them do this and then we paid them like a hired man," says Hendrickson. "They were able to use this money when they wanted to buy a car or something else. They learned how to manage money."
Managing money is a skill that brought the Hendricksons through many tough times.
"If we did not have enough money, we did not buy it," says Hendrickson. "We bought used equipment and then, as time went on, we upgraded."
With hard work and determination, Hendrickson Farms grew from 1,280 acres to 5,440 acres today. Currently, Hendrickson farms with the help of son, Lonnie, her daughters, Pamela, Patricia and Bobbie, and their husbands. Since Edwin's death 15 years ago, Hendrickson has been sole owner of the farm they began together 44 years ago. The land is in a limited partnership, divided equally among her children, so that it will remain in the family.
"I can still farm, though its a little harder now that my knees aren't so good," says Hendrickson, as she leans against her newest farm purchase, a John Deere 8770. "I want to be involved in the farm work as long as I can."